Ritual is part of what it means to be human. It defines and enriches culture, but what is ritual? What are the various kinds of ritual? Is ritual tradition bound and conservative or innovative and transformational? Ritual: A Very Short Introduction describes a number of specific rites and explores ritual from theoretical and historical perspectives. It focuses on the places where ritual touches everyday life; shows how ritual is an important vehicle for group and identity formation; how it generates and transmits beliefs and values; how it can be used to exploit and oppress; and how it has served as a touchstone for thinking about cultural origins and historical change.